LIVE: Tiny Moving Parts / Microwave @ O2 Academy Islington, London

By Dave Stewart

Tiny Moving Parts have an incredible fan base, and for good reason. Not only does their music reek of honesty and passion, but it’s immediately memorable too, burying its tones directly into your brain and massaging it into a rich, colourful haven. Their firm grasp on the emo genre has garnered them a really wide range of fans, spanning from brightly haired and freshly pierced teens all the way up to formerly brightly haired, formerly pierced adults – both of whom turned up en masse to witness their headlining London performance. 

Before the main event could take the stage, though, a band was tasked with warming up the room. That band was the aptly named Microwave – if their name is anything to go by, they certainly know a thing or two about how to warm things up. Channelling old-school grunge vibes alongside addictive post-hardcore sensibilities, newest record ‘Death Is A Warm Blanket’ is a departure from their older material, trading in sun-soaked emo vibes for a far darker and moodier setting that very effectively grabbed everyone’s attention in the venue. From the menacing riffs of ‘Float To The Top’ to the smooth undertones of ‘Lighterless’, the passionate cries of ‘The Fever’ to the pulsing fist-pumping powerhouse ‘Mirrors’, their set was a delight to witness. Their shyness and quiet nature added to the moodiness and underlying sense of panic in the music, like a ticking time bomb waiting for somebody to cut the wrong wire. 

Set closer ‘Vomit’ was the song everyone had been waiting for, the delicate opening chords causing bodies to suddenly appear on shoulders as fans emotionally delivered the vocals right back at the stage. Microwave are quickly showing themselves to be something very special, and the crowd at Islington Academy appeared to support that notion strongly. No matter how good they were, though, they were but a tasty appetiser for the mouth-watering main course that was about to follow.

The excitement buzzing through the room was contagious, with smiles and excited chatter bouncing from soul to soul as they all eagerly awaited the arrival of Tiny Moving Parts. Drummer William Chevalier calmly appeared on stage alongside bassist – and brother – Matthew Chevalier, followed by an animated Dylan Mattheisen, who darted across the stage like a rocket before immediately kicking into ‘Midwest Sky’ and turning the crowd from static smilers to bouncing grinners. The album had only been out for a couple of weeks, but the volume of the crowd was near-deafening, much to the joy of the band. Momentum stayed high as they immediately followed up with the fast and fun ‘Applause’, the anthemic ‘Headache’, and infectious new jam ‘Bloody Nose’. Four songs in and the happiness in the room was impossible to dampen, the warmth surrounding every member of the crowd like a gigantic venue-sized onesie.

The set flowed beautifully, featuring moments that stretched across their back catalogue, as well as plenty of newer cuts. From the raw and emotive double punch of 2014’s ‘Sundress’ and ‘Always Focused’, weaving through to the fizzy and energetic ‘Birdhouse’ and fan favourite ‘Feel Alive’, there wasn’t a stone left unturned. The latter birthed a mass chant of “I still miss you,” surging goosebumps through the entire room like a cold winter breeze. The breeze was likely created by the restless Mattheisen, who spent the majority of his time running in circles and jumping off things as he played his guitar parts with an almost inhuman accuracy. The set wasn’t all about the high octane powerhouses, though. The softer moments were something else entirely.

‘It’s Too Cold Tonight’ was powerful beyond measure, flawlessly performed by the band and temporarily altering the audiences faces from elation to awe. Despite only being a trio, the sound they create is more like that of a band double their size, their rises and falls swelling and decompressing in monumental shifts. One of the big set highlights was recent single ‘Vertabrae’, that not only swayed the crowd into a calm and cosy state of admiration, but also brought the smiles out in their biggest supply after Mattheisen emerged from side stage with his banjo, playing out the song perfectly.

Their set finally came to a close with a euphoric performance of ‘Caution’, causing a storm of crowd participation that was made up of crowd surfers, moshers, shoulder wavers and, the most popular group, word for word singers. Mattheisen ran all around the stage, sometimes missing his vocals due to being in the wrong place, but it didn’t matter. The atmosphere in the room was one of pure, unadulterated happiness, and seeing the band mirror the fun the crowd was having only heightened its potency. No one left the venue frowning. No one. This was one of the most fun, joy-filled shows that this genre has seen.

Both bands on the bill put on phenomenal displays, but the night was all about Tiny Moving Parts. It was the biggest headline performance they’d ever been a part of, and the turn out and appreciation in the room suggested that the room might be a bit bigger next time they’re on these shores. If you’re a fan of Tiny Moving Parts but haven’t been to see them yet, consider this an invitation to go and experience it. You deserve it. You owe it to yourself. Their music is stunning on record, but seeing them live makes you fall in love with them in a completely different way. You leave feeling full, content and happy, and every time you listen to their music after the gig you’ll be reminded of that love. They are the gift that keeps on giving – and who doesn’t like gifts?


Click here for the full gallery from Tiny Moving Parts’ Manchester Academy 3 show.